13 June 2008

Coach for ATL? Arbitration for Fleury, Malone walking?

Thrashers interested in Sullivan

Lightning assistant coach Mike Sullivan said Friday that the Thrashers have asked to speak to him regarding their head coaching position, and he will pursue that opportunity. Sullivan said Atlanta GM Don Waddell on Thursday requested permission to speak to him from Tampa Bay general manager Jay Feaster.

"I have not spoken with Don in person," Sullivan said. "We have exchanged voice mails."

Sullivan, 40, has been with the Lightning one season and got high marks from players for his communication and technical skills. He worked with the defense and the penalty kill. Sullivan said he took the Tampa Bay job with the understanding that he eventually wanted a head coaching job. He previously coached the Bruins from 2003-06.

That the Lightning fired coach John Tortorella, and apparently is close to naming Barry Melrose the new coach (but not until after the draft), obviously made Sullivan's situation tenuous. He has one year left on his Tampa Bay contract.

"A great experience to have worked with Torts," Sullivan said. "It was an invaluable learning experience."

"I want to be a head coach," Sullivan added. "In the absence of that opportunity, there's not another guy I would want to work for than Torts. I'm certainly grateful to him."

Pens file for arbitration with Fleury

PITTSBURGH - The Penguins made certain goalie Marc-Andre Fleury won't become a restricted free agent July 1, choosing to offer salary arbitration to one of the key players of their Stanley Cup playoff run.

The filing on Friday allows the Penguins to retain Fleury's rights to negotiate a multi-year contract in advance of arbitration hearings, which are scheduled from July 20 until Aug. 4. A hearing won't be held if a contract is worked out before then.

If Fleury had become a restricted free agent, an opposing club potentially could have offered the former No. 1 draft pick such a lucrative contract the Penguins might not have been able to match it because of salary-cap restrictions.

"By filing for salary arbitration, it gives us extra time to continue to negotiate a contract with Marc-Andre," general manager Ray Shero said. "As a result of the filing, Penguins fans are assured that Marc-Andre will be under contract to our club for next season. Marc-Andre has done a tremendous job for us. We remain committed to negotiating a contract with him in the near future."

The 23-year-old Fleury helped lead the Penguins to the 2008 Eastern Conference championship and a berth in the Stanley Cup final against Detroit.

"We understand that Pittsburgh filed for arbitration today with regard to Marc-Andre, which is their right under the CBA," said Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh. "We remain committed towards negotiating a long-term contract with Pittsburgh and will continue working with Penguins management towards that goal."

Fleury was 14-6 with a 1.97 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and three shutouts during the playoffs.

Ryan Malone to Columbus?

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Ryan Malone is not going to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins, unless the Penguins significantly up their offer. It's looking more and more like the Penguins will get Evgeni Malkin signed to a contract extension and be able to keep right winger Marian Hossa. That will show Malone to the door.

An NHL source said that Malone has been low-balled twice by the Penguins and is ready to leave July 1 as an unrestricted free agent. Malone's rights could be traded before that day, of course, and the Blue Jackets are a likely destination.

The source said the Penguins have already made the Blue Jackets an offer for Malone's rights. Not sure what the offer was, or if the Blue Jackets are still contemplating it. But this could go down pretty quick, folks.

Malone would definitely be happy to play for the Blue Jackets, a source said.

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